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Forbes Bankable Stars List – where do you favorite SCIFI genre stars rank?

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By Kate Blake, Admin Multipleverses

Forbes released their list of bankable Hollywood stars recently with some surprises and some things are not so surprising. Lets break things down by our favorite shows first- then we will look at the top movie stars.

From our favorite action and SCIFI TV series:

Kiefer Sutherland (24) Rank 160
Mary Lynn Rajskub ( 24) Rank 1390
Edward James Olmos ( BSG) Rank 892
Mary McDonnell ( BSG) Rank 977
Katee Sackhoff ( BSG) Rank 1189
David Boreanaz (Bones) Rank 770
Emily Deschanel (Bones) Rank 870
Gabrielle Anwar ( Burn Notice) Rank 1166
Bruce Campbell ( Burn Notice) Rank 1091
Hayden Panettiere ( Heroes) Rank 438
Milo Ventimiglia ( Heroes) Rank 837
Ali Larter ( Heroes) Rank 815
Zachary Quinto ( Heroes) Rank 993
Harvey Keitel ( Life on Mars) Rank 336
Michael Imperioli ( Life on Mars) Rank 798
Gretchen Mol ( Life on Mars) Rank 682
Simon Baker ( The Mentalist) Rank 819
Robin Tunney ( The Mentalist) Rank 916
Patricia Arquette ( Medium) Rank 635
Anna Friel ( Pushing Daisies) Rank 998
Lee Pace ( Pushing Daisies) Rank 1033
Kristin Chenoweth ( Pushing Daisies) Rank 505
Kristin Kreuk ( Smallville) Rank 1401
Tom Welling ( Smallville) Rank 907
Erica Durance ( Smallville) Rank 1356
Jensen Ackles ( Supernatural ) Rank 1402
Jeffrey Dean Morgan ( Supernatural and Grey’s Anatomy) Rank 779
Summer Glau ( TSCC) Rank 1364
Lena Headey ( TSCC) Rank 1121
Anna Paquin ( True Blood) Rank 413

No big surprises – the highest ranked stars on the list all had done quite a few movies before coming to tv. Kiefer Sutherland ( 140) was a big movie star before doing 24 and most likely 24 has enhanced his movie bankability factor. Hayden Panettiere ( 438) did a series of kids films before coming a hero on Heroes and has been everywhere in the media so her visibility is very high in the media even with people who don’t watch the show. Kristin Chenoweth ( 505) won a Tony explaining her ranking – and that was before she was in Four Christmases which was a big hit in November. Anna Paquin ( 413) who won an Oscar in The Piano in which she costarred with Harvey Keitel (336) – I am honestly surprised her movie quotient isn’t higher since she was in all three of the hugely successful X-Men movies – X-Men made $296 Million, X-Men 2 made $407 Million, X-Men 3 made $459 Million- the franchise has earned over a billion dollars worldwide to date. She is part of a worldwide billion dollar franchise- and people are shocked that True Blood has been a huge ratings success for HBO. Go figure.

On the low end- the stars of the CW shows have fairly low rankings. Tom Welling (907) has only carried one film on his own and done a couple of other films which were ensembles so ranking in the top 1000 is pretty good. His 2005 starring role in The Fog made over 2 times the production budget at the box office- which is pretty decent for a horror flick. Jensen Ackles has not done any big box office films until this winter with his very profitable outing in My Bloody Valentine. MBV was made for about $15 Million and to date has brought in over $60 Million worldwide with rather limited release- look for big DVD sales. A box office return of 4 times the investment is very good. Jared Padalecki didn’t make the list at all- I am sure that will change for next year once the numbers for Friday the 13th are factored in. Friday the 13th was made for about $19 million by Michael Bay’s production company and had a big $55 million dollar box office opening weekend. Amanda Righetti from The Mentalist who was also in the film, also failed to make the list. Kristin Kreuk has been a couple of films in the past and her new Street Fighter Movie ensures her a good international box office. She currently is promoting her movie in Asia and doesn’t seem to be scheduled to do any promotion for it in the US. Neal McDonough and Michael Clarke Duncan who are in the film are doing the talk show circuit this week and next for the film. I find this odd- but it is related to Canadian stars not getting much play in the US. Jensen Ackles film My Bloody Valentine was produced by Lionsgate which arranged the promotion for his film explaining why he hit the talk show circuit last month. Jared managed to do some press interviews and was on Bonnie Hunt. Bonnie has been very good to SCIFI genre people- with many of our favorites appearing on her show since it premiered in the fall. Erica Durance was on Bonnie as well as G4 when she was in Los Angeles in the fall for the Emmy Awards. Erica’s rank is higher than Kristin’s- mainly due to her straight to DVD movies, a couple of TV movies and good exposure ( so to speak) on FHM and Maxim mens magazines.

In the category of huh….Summer Glau and Lena Headey are not in the top 1000 which surprises me in some ways, particulary Lena. Lena has a solid film history but most of it falls into the realm of independent films. She was in Brothers Grimm with Heath Ledger and Matt Damon- the movie she says almost made her quit actings- which was a huge flop- costing $88 million and only bringing in $37 million worldwide. This was more than made up for with the sucess of The 300 with Gerard Butler as her co-star which cost $65 million and brought in $210 million.
Hollywood has been upside down in how they make stars for years. You make these big  budget films – they flop and you make more. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have made more big budget flops than they have had hits. Yet- all it takes is one little film that makes a ton of money to make you a bankable star in Hollywood. Hugh Grant had been making small arty films for years before he made the ensemble Four Weddings and a Funeral which overnight made him an A-list star. The cost for the film in 1994?  $4 million dollars to make and it earned over $245 million dollars internationally at the box office. Lena and her TV son Thomas Dekker have been actively continuing to make independent films while shooting their series Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles. All it takes is one small film to resonate with the critics and your ranking can change overnight. That or be an overexposed teenager. The stars from Gossip Girl all rank very high on the assorted bankability lists- even though the show only reaches a couple of million viewers per week. This is about the perception of who is a star- most of the people in action and sci-fi TV are not glorified as press objects. Hayden Panettiere who is still a teenager is the exception to that rule- of course her young age is part of what makes her the next big thing even though none of the people on the top 10 bankable stars list are under 30.

Favorite Stars from Retired Sci-Fi Series:
Jennifer Garner ( Alias) Rank 116
Sarah Michelle Gellar ( Buffy) Rank 267
James Marsters ( Buffy, Smallville, Torchwood) Rank 1114
Rose McGowan ( Charmed) Rank 443
Alyssa Milano ( Charmed) Rank 683
Jessica Alba ( Dark Angel) Rank 108
Nathan Fillion ( Firefly) Rank 927
Christian Slater ( My Own Worst Enemy) Rank 360
Jason Behr ( Roswell) Rank 1047
Katherine Heigl ( Roswell, Grey’s Anatomy) Rank 118
David Duchovny ( The X-Files, Californication) Rank 284
Gillian Anderson ( The X-Files, Masterpiece Theater) Rank 507

In the ranks of favorite stars from retired series who have made it big- Jennifer Garner has a high bankability quotient though the movies she has been the lead in have not done anything spectacular at the box office. Again- perception. Wallstreet is told she is a big star- the tabloids follow her so it must be true. Jessica Alba’s outings in the Fantastic Four series have done well but her comedies and thrillers have been misses. Personally I think Jess needs a good comedy on tv. She is funny as heck and would be great in a workplace comedy where she is the pretty ugly girl. Katherine Heigl may have started out as an alien on Roswell, but she did something very smart when the series was over. She made a series of TV movies for the Hallmark Channel that got critical acclaim and did a couple of comedies including a pre-quel to Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. This helped land her a job on Grey’s Anatomy which opened doors for the romantic comedy films she has wanted to make. Her onscreen brother and former boyfriend Jason Behr has been making small films that keep showing up on cable, and has dones some horror he was with Sarah Michelle Gellar in the Grudge. He is shopping for a new TV gig. Christian Slater has not had a hit film in years and his tv outing in My Own Worst Enemy was a mess. Rose McGowan did film before Charmed and has been back to making movies since it ended. Watch for her in Red Sonya coming out this year. Sarah Michelle Gellar was in the Scooby Doo movies and has done a lot of go nowhere comedies. She does well in horror but horror doesn’t make you a big movie stars.
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprised their roles as Mulder and Scully this summer in The X-Files I Want to Believe which got creamed by The Dark Knight but still made back its investment by two fold when international box office was accounted for. David and Gillian have both been active in an assortment of independent films since the X-Files ended and David is riding high on the sucess of his comedy Californication on Showtime. Gillian has pursued theater and film since hanging up her badge and has brought new life to Master Piece Theater which she is now hosting.

Favorite Genre Stars:
Hugh Jackman ( X-Men) Rank 42
Famke Janssen ( X-Men) Rank 527
Christian Bale ( Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) Rank 29
Liam Neeson ( Star Wars, Batman Begins) Rank 120
Harrison Ford ( Indiana Jones, Star Wars) Rank 26
Megan Fox ( Transformers) Rank 347
Josh Duhamel ( Transformers) Rank 386

Missing from the list- Shia LaBoeuf who co-starred in both Transformers and the latest Indiana Jones chapter. His co-stars Megan and Josh made the list- Megan thanks to her being named sexiest woman on the FHM list and Josh married one of pop’s favorite ladies ( Fergie). Hugh Jackman needs to have Wolverine do well at the box office to cancel out the financial failure of Australia. Famke starred in the X-Men series but as a woman over 40 without a big critical pedigree- her ranking has dropped since last year. Co-starring in the box office sucess Taken with Liam Neeson should help. Liam is a venerable star who has been paying his dues in over 20 years on screen in all kinds of films. Christian Bale is proof that one big series can change your box office profile. Before Batman he was a fan and critics favorite but not considered a movie star.

Top Ten Movie Stars on the list:
1 Will Smith
2 Johnny Depp
2 Leonardo DiCaprio
2 Angelina Jolie
2 Brad Pitt
6 Tom Hanks
7 George Clooney
8 Denzel Washington
9 Matt Damon
10 Jack Nicholson

The funniest thing for me is that the list of the top ten stars includes Angie , Johnny Depp and Will Smith. Will’s most sucessful films have all been genre films and he never strays too far from them. Angelina Jolie has made a lot of movie- we are always being told what a big star she is, but the biggest movie she has made was Kung Fu Panda which she did voice work for. Mr and Mrs Smith grossed $478 million worldwide making 4 times what it cost, the first Tomb Raider movie made about twice what it cost, the second one broke even with a profit of about 50 % of what the movie cost to make. To date Changeling has critical acclaim and has done well overseas but it is not by any stretch a huge sucess. As for Brad Pitt- his films do much better overseas than at home.

Slated to break out- Jeffrey Dean Morgan. JDM is best known to our viewers as John Winchester on Supernatural , but as I can attest from my experience at Horror Fest last month, he is very well known for his role as Katherine Heigl’s dead boyfriend on Grey’s Anatomy. I overheard two little grey haired grannies commenting while pointing to the Watchmen posters ” Oh- its that handsome young man from Greys!” which made me laugh. The younger people at the theater were commenting on him being John Winchester. There is an age gap in TV viewing. JDM is playing The Comedian in the Watchmen and should become a household name if the movie does as well as I hope it does at the box office. The trailers are amazing and he is joined by a crew of talented and under exposed actors.

Hugh Jackman hosting the Oscars on top of his win as Sexiest Man of the Year for People marks him as a real movie star in Hollywood’s eyes. If Wolverine breaks 200 million US in a week he will prove he can open a big film on his own too. Zachary Quinto will be making a huge splash this summer in J.J. Abrams new interpretation of Star Trek. Quinto is playing Spock. I love him as Sylar on Heroes and find his intensity as an actor to be compelling- much like a young Jack Nicholson. If Trek does well his part will be a very big part of the sucess. Transformers is making another appearance- so Megan, Shia and Josh will all be back taking on killer robots. I will be very interested to see where our favorites rank at this time next year.

To see where your faves from other genres rank click HERE. You can also read the methodology that goes into determining the rankings. Box office numbers in this report from BOX OFFICE MOJO.


  • creejay
    20 Feb 2009 | Permalink |

    Lena not making it into the top 1000 doesn’t really make sense. Also, Famke Janssen’s rank is too low (though Taken and some other more mainstream films coming out for her soon should help that). Rose McGowan’s relatively high ranking is probably just related to her on and off connection to Robert Rodriguez

  • Quinto fan
    21 Feb 2009 | Permalink |

    Quinto will move up this summer. I hope he has another movie in the works. He’s very compelling. Lots of stuff going on behind those beautiful brown eyes.

  • 8 Apr 2009 | Permalink |

    think he is a great person he wants to take care of the envoirment he is a very talented actor i think he is gorgeous as well i adore his blue eyes he is my idol i love what he does and how he does it if i could only meet one person it would be him ps. i love his 6 pack

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